One of the questions about the suspension of the professional tennis season due to the Coronavirus pandemic was how it would affect the rankings. Would points continue to fall off during the suspension, would the rankings be frozen until play resumes, or would it be something in between?
The answer came in a joint press release by the ATP and WTA on Wednesday, which not only announced that the rankings will be frozen, but that the tours will now be suspended until the week of June 8.
Freezing the rankings for the duration of the suspension means that the points players earned during these three months last year, which they can’t defend at this time, won’t be dropping off for now. Whether these ranking points will drop off before the same period in 2021 isn’t known yet.
That could be critical for some players given some of the biggest events of the year are in this stretch of the season: five of the nine Masters 1000 events on the men’s side (Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome), three of the four Premier Mandatory events on the women’s side (Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid) and, of course, one of the four Grand Slams, Roland Garros, which the FFT shifted to late September.
Roger Federer, who was going to be off the tour until June after undergoing right knee surgery in February, would have dropped 40 percent of his ranking points (2,680 of 6,630) during this stretch, which could have seen him fall from No. 4 to the lower end of the Top 10.
In 2019, Federer follow-up his runner-up finish at Indian Wells with a title run in Miami. (Getty Images)
Bianca Andreescu, who had already withdrawn from Indian Wells, due to a persistent left knee issue, will now hang onto her points from her breakthrough win at the Premier Mandatory event a year ago. The No. 6-ranked Canadian would have dropped outside of the Top 10 next Monday had those points dropped off.
And the hotly-contested battle for No. 1 on the ATP rankings between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will be on hold for now, too, with No. 1 Djokovic currently holding a slight 370-point edge over No. 2 Nadal, 10,220 to 9,850. Djokovic was due to back up 2,635 ranking points through June 7; Nadal was going to be defending 4,260 points (2,000 of those at Roland Garros).
Speaking of No. 1s, not being able to defend ranking points over the next three months would have been tough for the women’s No. 1, Ashleigh Barty, who earned just under 40 percent of her ranking points (3,440 of 8,717) during this stretch last year. She wouldn’t have lost her No. 1 ranking, but her current buffer of more than 2,500 points over No. 2 Simona Halep would have been significantly diminished.
Lastly, June 8, 2020, is still scheduled as the ranking cut-off date for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. If the Olympics go ahead as planned, and the cut-off stays the same, then the March 9, 2020 rankings would determine the qualifying players—unless the ITF modifies the criterion. Under the current structure, each country can fill a maximum of four singles slots and bring two additional players. The tennis event in Tokyo is slated to get underway on Saturday, July 25.